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Friend or Foe? What possible Trump arrest means for America

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The hush money didn’t really work out, did it?

The Stormy Daniels story has been making headlines for years. In fact, it had mostly become old news… before this weekend.

Early Saturday morning, former President Donald Trump took to social media to predict his own arrest in New York in connection with a grand jury investigation there. The potential arrest of a former president is an unprecedented event in American history, and it will raise serious questions about using the justice system for political persecution. It will also lead to high-stakes debates and legal challenges that could forever alter the balance of power between the executive and judicial branches of government.

At issue, allegations that Trump directed his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to pay off adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an affair. Cohen got three years in prison for his role, and Trump was reportedly identified as “Individual-1” in court documents related to Cohen’s prosecution. If Trump did indeed direct Cohen to make these payments, he could be looking at a felony charge in the New York case. Legal experts on both sides agree that a felony case could be a stretch to successfully prosecute, however.

Speculation has been running rampant since Trump’s announcement, and people are scrambling to make sense of what’s about to go down. It’s a story that’s been brewing for years, but few expected it would come to this. There’s no clear indication if or when Trump will be arrested, but if the old adage “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” holds true, then the Manhattan District Attorney’s office must be ablaze by now. As of press time Tuesday night, national media was reporting that the indictment against Trump could come down as soon as Wednesday.

The payments in question in the case against Trump were reportedly made in 2016, right before Trump’s first presidential election. The big legal question is whether these payments violated campaign finance laws. Federal election law limits individual contributions to political campaigns and requires that any payments made to influence an election be reported. The payments to Daniels were not reported, and it’s been argued that they were made to prevent damaging information about Trump from becoming public.

Another issue in the case is whether Trump obstructed justice by directing Cohen to make the payments and then lying about them. If it can be proven that Trump was aware of the payments and directed Cohen to make them, it could be seen as an attempt to cover up potential violations of campaign finance law and obstruct the investigation.

Trump’s allies have been quick to cry foul, claiming that any attempt to indict Trump is politically motivated and part of a broader effort to undermine the MAGA movement. And Trump’s allies cite a legitimate basis for those claims; former Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, a Democrat, was an outspoken, often-vitriolic critic of Trump throughout his tenure. Though notably, current Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a former New York state and federal prosecutor, has remained very tight-lipped about the probe and about Trump in general since he inherited the investigation.

As the coverage of this story continues, the cable news airwaves grow more crowded, the voices crying foul louder and more urgent. Public sentiment will likely echo those airwaves in the coming weeks.

And that’s before those airwaves begin the inevitable arguing around the outcomes of other known investigations of former-President Trump, including the election-related probe in Georgia and the growing federal case being handled by recently-appointed Special Counsel Jack Smith, former Public Integrity Chief of the Justice Department under the Obama Administration.

But here’s the bottom line: America is already a severely divided nation, and the potential arrest of a former president—and a current candidate for president, no less—has the potential to exacerbate those divisions even further. Trump is a highly polarizing figure, and his supporters are fiercely loyal to him, while his critics display a level of disdain rarely seen in American political history. If Trump is arrested, it will almost certainly lead to further division and extreme mistrust between his supporters and those who oppose him – some of whom will be other Republicans running for the 2024 GOP nomination.

This will further inflame political tensions that are already stressed to a breaking point and make it near impossible for America’s warring political parties to find common ground on other issues – including some potentially important ones – like the rise of Artificial Intelligence, the real-time transformation of the world economy, and the potential for World War 3, to name a few.

At this point, most Americans assume they have seen and heard it all when it comes to Trump. The controversies and scandals have been nightly fodder on the news channels for years. Most Americans made up their minds about how they feel about Donald Trump long before now. But how will Americans react to seeing Trump arrested? That’s a whole new ballgame, and one that might not be fun to watch.

The wrap-up of the investigations into Trump will mark the end of an era. However, the final chapters in Trump’s story, which has captivated the nation for decades, have yet to be written.

From his early days as a successful businessman with cameo appearances in popular movies to his reality television stint and his tumultuous time in politics, Donald Trump has been a fixture in American culture for much of his life. Now, the world is waiting with bated breath to see what happens next as Trump continues his bid to retake the White House while simultaneously facing several investigations.

Trump says his arrest will ignite a fire in Americans who are fed up, and it will propel him back to the White House next year. Other 2024 Republican GOP-hopefuls are banking on a different reaction from voters. Make no mistake – fiery rhetoric will be incoming at Trump from both sides of the aisle as the run-up to the 2024 election approaches. It will be no-holds-barred. Presidential politics is a dirty business in the best of times, and Trump’s ambitious GOP rivals smell blood in the water.

The fallout from this episode in American history will be felt for years to come. The realities of the Trump-era will always be with us, just as they will always be with Trump, in one form or another. It’s hard to imagine what the aftermath of all this will look like, but one thing’s for sure: no matter what happens, it likely won’t be pretty, at least in the near term.

And that ugliness won’t be good for any of us, whether political friend or foe of Donald J. Trump.

Friend or Foe: this is the viewpoint we often have of our neighbors these days, and the polarization has become almost commonplace. But is there a better viewpoint?  Are we more than “friend or foe”?  A casual observer of America over the past decade might doubt our sincerity if we claimed to have practiced what we preach. But like all good sermons – this asks important questions of our better angels: Aren’t we all Americans? And as Americans, aren’t we all ultimately bound to win or lose collectively, together, just as we always have?

History will await our answer.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of SuperTalk Mississippi Media.

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